Nourishment for mama and baby.
It’s an exciting time when you decide to start on the journey of having a baby – whether it’s planned or not! From the moment you find out you’re pregnant, or from when you decided to start trying, your mind will no doubt wander to think about what you need to do to prep for being a mama. Most probably, prenatal vitamins will make their way to the top of your baby-planning checklist, but where can you get them in Hong Kong? Read on to find out.
Although it’s an exciting time, it can be quite a steep learning curve when you first start looking into pregnancy, vitamins and diet. According to the Government’s Department of Health Family Help Service, women should consider the following nutritional needs as the body changes during pregnancy:
1st trimester (the first 13 weeks)
Demand for folate, vitamin A and iodine increases.
2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy (weeks 14 to 40)
The requirement for energy and protein increases for the growing baby. Apart from folate, vitamin A and iodine, there is a higher demand for iron, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, plus a mild increase in calcium requirements.
The body needs an extra 500kcal of energy a day. Sufficient intake of protein, folate, iodine, zinc, vitamin A and DHA is required to ensure an adequate level of nutrients in your breastmilk.
This is a very top-level guide as to what you will need to nourish your body prior to conception (for example, it’s recommended that you start taking folic acid at least a month prior to conception, while some recommend taking a full prenatal vitamin even three months prior!), and not all mamas might be able to take some of the recommended items, so always make sure to consult your doctor before starting to take supplements. Once pregnant, a simple blood test can also highlight any other vitamins that your body might need to accompany a healthy balanced diet (for example, this mama was vitamin D deficient and didn’t even realise!).
It can be tricky to actually find a good range of prenatal vitamins in the city, but there are some places along with a range of online options that all deliver to your door:
The Doctor’s surgery
Whether you are going down the public or private route, your antenatal care team should be able to prescribe the prenatal vitamins that you might need:
Public system (antenatal appointments are usually by your district catchment area and are free for Hong Kong ID holders, but you may have to pay for vitamin prescriptions)
Note that if you’re using insurance to go private, your package mostly probably won’t cover vitamin supplement prescriptions (even the all-singing, all-dancing ones) so always check with your provider first.
Hong Kong stores
Here you’ll find a selection of options from GNC for pregnancy and beyond. The Prenatal Program includes 30 days of everything you might need; prenatal multi-vitamins and minerals, calcium and DHA combined (suitable for prenatal and postnatal use). You can also purchase each separately as well.
So you might opt for a prenatal multivitamin and top it up with DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid that helps to grow healthy brains, skin and eyes) if you’d like. You can also get baby DHA drops as a supplement for children aged 6 months or above (there’s even a vegetarian version!).
One other useful item to look out for babies (over the age of 1) is vitamin D3 drops, as they will help your baby continue to absorb calcium after birth, supporting the growth of teeth and bones.
Watsons carries a range of different brands, from the lesser-known local variety to bigger names. If you’re trying to conceive, Blackmores Conceive Well promotes healthy ovulation and fertility. The same brand also has Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Gold capsules and individual Folic Acid as well.
Another recognised name for prenatal multivitamins is Materna. You can try its 23 Vitamins & Minerals 100 tabs. Or try the Mom Vitamin & Mineral with DHA from Nestle. For a prenatal probiotic, it stocks Dr. Formulated Probiotics Once Daily Prenatal by Garden of Life, ideal to support mama and baby throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding.
This store has a small selection of prenatal vitamins on its website, but it also has stock in the Mong Kok and Causeway Bay stores.
oGreen, Mong Kok – Room 1703, 17/F, Omega Plaza, 32 Dundas Street
For a wider range of prenatal vitamins, the internet is your friend. You can order directly from these sites, which all deliver to Hong Kong:
With so many options to choose from, make sure you do your research before you start taking any prenatal vitamins. Consult your doctor to make sure the supplements won’t cause an issue with existing medication and check the product labels to find one with ingredients you’re happy with.